FIFA Tripartite Grassroots Project Takes Off in Zambia

Zambia has launched the School Football League under the FIFA Grassroots Project, which aims to make football more accessible to both boys and girls in schools by incorporating football activities into physical education in a quest to develop grassroots football in the country.

Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, Emmanuel Mulenga, launched the project, which is a product of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and the Ministry of General Education, at an event on Friday attended by over twenty-four primary and secondary schools at the Levy Mwanawasa stadium in Ndola on the Copperbelt province.

Also present at the event included FAZ officials led by president Andrew Kamanga, his vice Justin Mumba, general secretary Adrian Kashala, Technical Director Lyson Zulu, Olympic Youth Development Centre Chief Executive Officer Fredrick Chitangala, Ministry of General Education, Zambia Sports Schools Association officials, among others.

Mulenga, accompanied by Director of Sport John Zulu, Copperbelt province permanent secretary Bright Nundwe and other Ministry officials, said government was committed to invest in all aspects of sport development in the country.

He added that the launch was an affirmation of government’s desire to actualise the tripartite MoU with Ministries of Sport, General Education, FAZ and FIFA towards revamping football in the country through grassroots football in schools.

“The launch of the schools league football project is very imperative because grassroots football always encourages young players to improve football skills while having fun. It also provides an arena to identify and develop local talent and build local confidence of players regardless of their background,” Mulenga said.

Kamanga said grassroots football has become a signature of his executive and with the fresh mandate given recently, the Association will embark on numerous programmes aimed at scaling up the efforts.

“This programme fits into our 10-year Strategic Plan that is hinged on the development of the grassroots. We have already reaped from our efforts in grassroots football with our junior teams already shining in regional and continental games,” said Kamanga.

“FAZ has implemented a decentralization programme that has seen offices set up across all the provinces. We will be counting on these offices to help implement this programme. Given the wide network of the ministries of education and sports, we have no doubt that this programe will benefit youths across the country.”

He also thanked world football governing body, FIFA, for committing to funding the project, a clear show of how interested they were in actualizing it.

“We will spread this program to the rest of the country. There is no better medium than the structures that the Ministry of General Education provides. We will also run a robust referees’ program that will see us send our training officers into schools,” he added.

The pilot project will cover boys and girls from 40 schools comprising 20 primary and 20 secondary schools, and in addition to each participating school receiving start-up football jerseys and footballs, the event had extra colour added to it when teachers (coach and Referee) from each piloting school who were trained for four days, were awarded with FAZ E Licenses.

FAZ will train teachers as coaches for the program and also referees to help spread the benefits of the program.

Matches were also played at the Levy Mwanawasa stadium Annex to signify the start of the project.

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